Edward Kelly – 1943-2016
With the death on 23 September 2016 of Edward Kelly, the Society lost one of the most influential figures in our history. Edward was simply the rock and foundation stone underpinning the fabric of the modern day SPO. He was also responsible alongside a handful of others for the dramatic growth and development of our orchestra over the last 40 years.
The orchestra Edward joined as a violinist in the early 1970’s was a shadow of the SPO today; membership was small, concerts infrequent, committee meetings held as required. Edward soon found himself on the committee and rapidly became entwined in all aspects of the running of the Society, bringing with him much valued down to earth business skills. He became Librarian in 1979, a job he carried out with efficiency and resourcefulness for 25 years, and in 1989 he was elected Vice-President. It was a natural progression that he should become President in 2002, a position he held with dignity and distinction until the end of his life. He was made an honorary life member of the Society in recognition of exceptionally distinguished service.
Described by Adrian Smith in An Improbably Centenary as both striker and sweeper, Edward was a doer, a man who made things happen, sometimes through skilled leadership of those around him, but often through committing both his personal and business resources. His contribution to the success of the SPO‘s endeavours in recent times cannot be overstated. Instrumental in setting up our Corporate Patronage scheme, his personal intervention has also secured countless other projects. Shrewd and generous, practical and realistic, but above all staunchly loyal in his support of others, Edward will be remembered as one of the main drivers behind the SPO’s transformation from a small band giving village hall concerts to an award winning symphony orchestra with a national reputation hailed by the BBC as one of the finest amateur orchestras in the country.
Edward will also be remembered with affection by the members of the SPO violin section. It is a testament to his gritty determination that, even though in the advanced stages of illness, he continued to play up until our concert in Dewsbury in June 2016.
The SPO benefited hugely from Edward’s extensive business experience as owner and Managing Director of the company now known as Easilift Loading Systems, an enterprise Edward created from nothing. He gained international recognition in his industry becoming a prominent figurehead in British and European Materials Handling Federations.
To Edward this Society owes a huge debt of gratitude. He really was one of life’s good guys.